Friday, December 4, 2020

Initiative to help local businesses face new challenges

By on October 29, 2020

To strengthen local businesses by providing them free entrepreneurial education and personalized assistance, for the new challenges they face due to COVID-19, the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) launched the Business Relief Assistance
Program.

This initiative will focus on providing business owners with the assistance and the support needed for access to capital, occupational health and safety standards, website development, virtual stores, contingency plans, cybersecurity, and intellectual property needed for their business continuity.

Since 1997, SBTDC has been driving local entrepreneurs to grow, innovate and export, through a cooperative agreement with the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

“Many business owners need mentorship. Some have reinvented by offering new services. Also, there are others that increased their sales during this pandemic. But since we noticed among our clients that now they are more resilient to face and survive in difficult situations, there are still many requests to help them with access to capital and for individualized counseling.

Among those requests are also those to create or improve their webpage, or to integrate a virtual store” said CPA Ricardo Martínez, executive director of Puerto Rico SBTDC. The SBTDC recently added new business consultants, through a CARES Grant, to expand the scope of the services they provide to entrepreneurs.

These new resources will complement the business advisory services that are usually offered by SBTDC business consultants. “Accelerated digital transformation has required great effort from entrepreneurs who have tremendous challenges to achieve their continuity and in turn retain jobs. We are confident that these new SBTDC services will strengthen the local entrepreneur. We make available to the business community these service
centers located in most of our Campuses”, said Esq. Manuel J. Fernós, president of the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico.

The SBTDC has been proactive in helping businesses since the pandemic began.

In March, it opened a virtual business center, which continues to offer services from 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. Some 13,000 clients have received individualized assessment, 100% virtual workshops and
have managed to access more than $51 million in capital for their businesses through the services offered by the SBTDC.

The themes of virtual seminars have been in tune with the new needs of entrepreneurs. For example, the conferences recently held were on how to sell products through digital platforms, how to make an electronic billing, how to sell through Amazon, and about Restaurant Apps, among others.

“I urge pandemic-affected entrepreneurs to take advantage of the new counseling programs offered by our associated SBTDC resources. They can communicate directly to the virtual business support center and make an appointment. These services are available completely free of charge
thanks to the grant offered by the SBA,” said María De Los Angeles De Jesús, Interim Director of the District of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands of the SBA.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 62,000 local entrepreneurs have managed to obtain $3 billion to maintain their business, through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) programs of SBA.

To obtain SBTDC services, you can access alivioempresarial.com or contact the Virtual Business Support Center at (787)625.1515.

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